FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. –- Arkansas men’s basketball head coach John Pelphrey met with the media on Friday to discuss his Pel’s Pals Foundation and to answer questions regarding the Razorbacks. Following is a partial transcript of the press conference. For more information on Monday’s Pel’s Pals gala or Tuesday’s golf tournament, contact Keely O’Brien at kobrien@experienceBEST.com. Proceeds from the event benefit the local Children’s Home, Arkansas Children’s Hospital and pediatrics at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences in Little Rock.
“First of all, congratulations to (Coach) Brad McMakin and the golf team. What an unbelievable finish to the season they had (second in the NCAA Tournament). They’ve also gotten an early start on recruiting with Stephen Cox. We wish him well and we’re excited to see what he can do.
“In baseball, I’m looking forward to them getting off to a great, great start (in the World Series). That’s obviously good for us. (Coach) Dave Van Horn is part of the neighborhood and the Razorback family.
“To (men’s coach) Chris Bucknam and (women’s coach) Lance Harter, we wish them well with the NCAA Championships on campus.
“Pel’s Pals events are Monday and Tuesday with a gala Monday at the Town Center. There is an opportunity to buy tickets at PelsPalsFoundation.com.
“We are excited about what we can get done and hopefully some people will get touched. A year ago, we were blown away with the support and generosity of the state. We were fortunate to be able to help the Children’s House here in Fayetteville and help kids who have been abused and battered. We also partnered with Children’s Hospital in Little Rock. My daughter spent two weeks in intensive care (when she was born). You want someone to know what they are doing when they’re taking care of your child. There are a number of things we want to support.”
Razorback roster (14 players listed but 13 scholarships):
“There is a long way to go until August. These things always work themselves out and we’re certain they will. It’s too early to call. There are a lot of scenarios right now playing out. To try to predict any which way it would go, I can’t.”
Stephen Cox leaving the basketball team for the golf team:
“I love Stephen Cox. He’s been a tremendous, tremendous asset to our team. A lot of guys have an impact on an organization and he helps us. He will be missed, but we’re certainly excited about how he’ll be able to help the golf team.”
Michael Washington returning for his senior season after making himself available for the NBA Draft:
“I’m not surprised that he tested the water. Michael and his family were open and up front. He let us be a part of the process all along and let us know what he was thinking. I’m excited he’s coming back. He called me and said he wanted to come back and help us build toward a championship. He made a huge jump from a strength and conditioning standpoint last summer. He worked his tail off. He’s working hard to put himself in a situation where he can have another big jump physically. When you have a level of success like that, there’s going to be a game plan for playing you. You need to add stuff to your arsenal. Not only physically, but skill-wise as well.
“That situation wasn’t as traumatic as you might think. He had been communicating with us all along. You can’t get a guy like that this time of year. He has some toughness, he’s an Arkansas kid and he loves this place.”
Academic Progress Rate (APR):
“The APR is here. It’s not going anywhere. When I got the job, we started preparing for a lot of this. A lot of that work is already in place. That helps with a tough situation.”
Five starters back from last year (Rotnei Clarke, Courtney Fortson, Michael Sanchez, Michael Washington, Stefan Welsh):
“I hope we continue to show improvement. It probably was not always fair for us to ask those guys what we asked them to do. Hopefully some of the guys we signed (for this year) have the impact some of our newcomers had last year. We need a combination of both. Depth hurt us, fouls hurt us and fatigue hurt us. We didn’t have a lot of pop when we went to the bench. Hopefully overachieving and being a team are things we always have.”
“None of them are on campus. We have four or five of the veterans here. We should have a large number here for the second summer session.”
“There was a perception out there as early as November that the league was down. We need to win more games. (Last year) was unusual. With all the guys that are coming back, we could be the best league in the country.”
“I can’t comment due to those privacy regulations, so there’s not a lot I can say. We have a relationship and I will always try to encourage Patrick and the rest of those guys to do the right things, take care of themselves and protect themselves. I keep up with him, hearing what he’s told other guys.
“I think there are a lot of things, about our job sometimes, that make it tough or give us something else to have to deal with. I’m sure there are days that I feel like anybody else who is kind of in charge of something.”
“I would say Jason is still day to day, and that’s no different than you’ve heard me say many times. I will say this – to his credit, he had a very good spring academically in terms of results. He gets a high five for that. Hopefully that encourages him that ‘Hey, if I pay attention a little bit, I can have some success.’ He needs to continue that here in the summer.”
“I was very disappointed. I do believe Marcus is truly remorseful. I think it hurt him because he loves this state. He’s very affectionate towards his family and wants to represent them in the right way. I think he feels bad about letting the University of Arkansas and his team down. He’s still on the team. He’s in summer school. We’ll have to wait and see how things play out in terms of discipline.”
“There’s a lot of work, but we knew that when we got here. The first spring was probably easier than this one because that team was intact. Since then, we’ve been recruiting and adding a piece here or there to get us where we want. The big picture stuff (six seniors) we knew about, but Patrick Beverley you couldn’t predict. Marcus Monk and Montrell McDonald, you can’t put them in there, either.”
Jeff Peterson, transfer guard from Iowa who must sit out the 2009-10 season:
“He’s somebody you’re looking for because he has experience, a talent level, and he wants to work and be coached. He’s also a big, big-time student. He’s a guy we’re excited about. We heard he was leaving (Iowa) through word of mouth and followed up on it.”
Game against Louisville:
“It’s happening, but I don’t know that the contracts are signed. Our schedule is usually completed at the end of July or the first part of August, and that’s when we’ll release everything. I think the Louisville game (in St. Louis) is going to happen.
“Scheduling is tough. That is the second-most important thing we do outside of recruiting.”
Affects of finishing 2-14 in the SEC last year:
“That is yet to be determined. I’ve heard a lot of talk from the guys about being ready to get back to work. I like to think there is some motivation there, but that is to be determined.
“I like my staff. They are all hard-working and loyal, and they love the University of Arkansas. We have some continuity and have a chance to be better than we’ve ever been. This is the same group of guys that got bonuses for going to the NCAA Tournament the year before (in 2008) and now all of a sudden they don’t know what they are doing? This is team Arkansas. Guys will come and go (on a staff when changes are needed), we all understand that, but I don’t feel that is the situation here.”
Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long:
“Jeff is incredible. I feel that he is a superstar. I’m excited about working with Jeff. He makes me feel like he hired me and he is very supportive. We’ve talked about a lot of things.”
Incoming recruiting class (7-0 FR C Anthony Borden, 6-7 FR F Glenn Bryant, 6-5 JR G/F Jemal Farmer, 6-9 JR F Delvon Johnson, 6-1 FR G Julysses Nobles, 6-0 JR G Jeff Peterson [who must sit out the 2010 season] and 6-7 FR F Marshawn Powell):
“We have a chance to address our needs. I feel like we’ve done that. Hopefully we got big and athletic at small forward. Hopefully we have depth in the frontcourt and more ball-handling in the backcourt.”
Lack of depth the main concern last year:
“That was part of it along with other things, but there is no excuse that’s good enough. We’ve got to work to be better.”